Fairfield soldier participates in patching ceremony

Pfc. Wyatt J. Stark of Fairfield was part of approximately 65 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers recently recognized during a patching ceremony held at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center in Johnston.

This ceremony represents a time-honored tradition, where Iowa citizen-soldiers officially receive the left-shoulder military patch representing their unit of assignment in the Iowa Army National Guard.

It also marks completion of the Iowa National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program, a preparatory training program that provides new recruits the education and skills needed to excel during their Army Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training military school.

These soldiers represent today?s Iowa Army National Guard, which consists of 7,000 citizen-soldiers based in more than 40 communities across the state. Stark, a 2014 graduate of Fairfield High School and a 2016 graduate of Marshalltown Community College in Marshalltown now becomes a computer/detection systems repairer with Company B, 334th Brigade Support Battalion, of Cedar Rapids.

Computer/detection systems repairers perform maintenance and repair on a variety of critical systems and equipment, including microcomputers and electromechanical telecommunications equipment, field artillery digital devices, Global Positioning System receivers, night vision devices/equipment and laser and fiber-optic systems.

?I joined the military to be a part of something bigger than myself,? Stark said, ?and to serve my country while at the same time enabling myself to continue my college education.?

By completing Basic Training and AIT, Stark is now eligible for the Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Program, a state-funded tuition assistance program for Iowa National Guard members who attend Iowa community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private. Under this program, Iowa National Guard members will receive tuition payment up to 100 percent of the State Regents? rate, an amount up to $7,108 per academic year.

Stark, son of Michael and Kimberly Stark, of Mt. Pleasant, also is eligible for the Reserve Component GI Bill, which pays a soldier $600 per month while attending college, technical or vocational trade schools, and he?ll also receive monthly drill pay and 15 days of paid duty each year for annual training.